Thursday, May 24, 2012

Plans for Jubilee Celebrations

Egglescliffe & Eaglescliffe council have planned a weekend of events to celebrate the Jubilee.  The weekend kicks off with an exhibition in Egglescliffe community centre on Durham Lane on Saturday morning while crafts, games, puppet shows, music and face painting goes on outside on the grass near the library.
The council aims to celebrate in style after the horror of last weekend, so bring out your flags and bunting and let's have the security fencing covered in red, white and blue for the day.
At 2pm there's an illustrated talk on life in the early 1950s (I've heard a preview and it's fascinating).
Then at 7.30 there's a murder mystery evening also in the community centre.

On Sunday the action moves to the Village Green for a Big picnic lunch followed by games and entertainment all afternoon, ending with a service of thanksgiving at 4.30.
On Monday the ward has two jubilee beacons to light - Friends of Preston Park are hosting an event in Preston Park starting at 8.30pm near the aviary with family fun activities, followed by a short service at 9.50 leading up to the lighting of the beacon down on the jetty at 1015.
Egglescliffe memorial garden, next to the war memorial, has an evening of quieter music and refreshments leading up to the lighting of the beacon on St John's church tower, also at 1015.  This is hosted jointly by St John's and Egglescliffe & Eaglescliffe council.
As chair this year of the parish council I shall be at that event, but I  hope lots of people go to the Preston Park one too.  Eaglescliffe is very fortunate to have 2 events out of the 8 taking place in the borough, so let's get out there and enjoy ourselves.

Arson Confirmed

Yesterday morning Cleveland Police confirmed that the fire at Orchard shops was caused deliberately and the focus of investigation has now shifted to finding the culprit.  Ward councillors and the local MP, James Wharton, have worked together on the impact of the fire since Saturday morning and yesterday James issued a media release on behalf of us all.  The text is reproduced below:

Arson Suspected, Community Calls on witnesses to inform police
Joint Press Release from Local Councillors and MP
The fire at the Orchard Shopping Parade in Eaglescliffe early Saturday morning may have been caused by arson, Police suspect.
The site was visited on Saturday by James Wharton MP along with local Conservative Councillor Phil Dennis and Liberal Democrat Councillor Maureen Rigg.
The local Councillors and MP have now released a joint statement and called for any witnesses to come forward:
James said:
“This has been a huge blow to our community, with people’s jobs and local independent businesses put at risk. Along with Phil and Maureen I was on site on Saturday and I spoke to the landlords then, we all hope the shopping parade will be rebuilt but in the meantime whoever did this, especially if it was a deliberate act, must be brought to justice.”
Cllr Rigg said:
"This makes it even worse - the thought that someone could wilfully endanger the lives of those in the flats and the livelihood of dozens of people is too horrific to contemplate. Alan Lewis and I will work with Phil Dennis and James Wharton to get the shops back into use as fast as possible and to encourage anyone with any information that might help the police to come forward quickly."
Cllr Dennis said:
“We are working together to keep the community updated and will be doing everything we can to see the shopping parade rebuilt. If anyone saw anything they should certainly come forward, this could easily have put lives at risk and the damage to independent businesses and their employees has been huge.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Shops update

Today I spoke with the owner of the shopping parade who stressed again that he wants to see the shops rebuilt but it will take time to assess the damage and decide on what needs to be done and what can be done.  I've emphasised that one thing everyone I've had contact with agrees on is the need to have the shops back.  There's no interest at all in having anything else on the site, but a lot of interest in having a modernised shopping parade.  Although it's too early to say exactly what will happen it's clear that some demolition is needed - the sagging roofs need to be removed at the very least.  The owners are hoping that a start can be made on the demolition work within the next 2 weeks.  That could make it a bit difficult for the Jubilee celebrations but Eaglescliffe can rise above those problems - we'll decorate the area and enjoy ourselves no matter what!
Meanwhile, we have Sainsbury's open along with the library and the community centre.   The Hairdresser is trying to set up a mobile service for some of her less mobile customers and trying to accomodate others at her Yarm salon.  The chemist is working with the Sunningdale pharmacy to offer a prescription service until he can establish something more.  The Bengal Lancer is setting up in temporary premises at Sunningdale shops.  The Chinese takeaway is reminding people they can order from Yarm.  And the dry cleaner is asking for details so that they can start the long process of insurance claims.  If you haven't had all the phone numbers etc in an email news and would like it - do ask.

Shops update

At the request of ward councillors Stockton Council's officers are trying to meet with the owners of the businesses and find out what help they need.  As soon as that's known we'll know what's possible.  Meanwhile I met the owner of the shopping parade this morning and stressed again how keen we all are to have the shops up and running again, although I recognise that insurance investigations take time.  Rome wasn't built in a day and all that.
Sainsbury's should be open mid-morning but people will need to be very careful when approaching and stick to the designated paths as there is a lot of security fencing and still barriers round the excavations needed to sort out the gas leak on Saturday.  Security staff will be on hand to help keep on the right track.
The community centre now has power so it will be back to normal.
The library was getting a steady trickle of people so word will spread that it's operational I'm sure.
We might yet need to organise a clean up of the path in front of the library in time for the Jubilee celebrations but we'll see whether any rain comes and does the job for us!
Don't forget that if you live in Eaglescliffe and want to get regular email updates you can arrange it by contacting me at the address on the left.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Orchard Shops

Following yesterday's devastating fire the latest news is:
1. Sainsbury's is being cleaned of smoke damage, all food etc has been removed and the shop will be restocked for opening on Tuesday all being well
2. Egglescliffe Community Centre has escaped with just loss of power.  They hope to get power back some time tomorrow and to open for normal service on Tuesday.
3. The pharmacy has been cleared of all controlled substances and sensitive paperwork.  The chemist hopes to start a prescription collection service from other premises soon.
4. Lib Dem and Conservative councillors are working together with the local MP to help get things sorted out for our community.  If we find that there is any way in which the community can help we will be calling for help.  Meanwhile we are keeping people informed by e-mails to our mailing lists.  If you know of anyone who'd like to receive those emails just get in touch via the contact e-mail on the left of the page.
5.  Until structural engineers, insurance assessors etc have done their work no plans can be made for the future of the damaged buildings.  Many rumours have been circulating but no decisions have been taken

Meanwhile, the parish council's jubilee celebrations will go ahead as planned on the grass and in the community centre.  I hope everyone will turn out and enjoy the Saturday festivities, then join in Sunday at the Green and Monday on Memorial Garden - make it a weekend to remember pleasurably, unlike this one!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Urlay Nook Plans

This afternoon was the "community consultation" on the proposal by Taylor Wimpey for houses on the field at Urlay Nook Rd opposite Hunters' Green.  The developers invited ward and Parish Councillors for  a private briefing before the public dropin session and all 3 ward councillors duly turned up, along with 2 representatives of the Parish Council.
There is no doubt that the developers have put some careful thought into the proposal but that doesn't alter the fact that this is a further creeping development westwards over green fields.  I know that the green field is within the limits of development as laid down in Stockton's planning documents over the years but the fact remains that it hasn't been developed so far and people have grown to expect that it wouldn't be.  Now a  combination of factors looks set to change all that.  Up to 160 houses is a lot less than would have been applied for a few years ago, but it's still a lot of houses.  It still would generate more traffic on the roads and more children needing school places, more demand for community facilities and more pedestrians crossing busy roads.
The developers did make notes of some of the things we pointed out, and might make some small changes but an application will almost certainly go in and the planning committee will again have the job of deciding it on its planning merits.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Fly Tipping

Fly tipping used to be a problem of verges on the outskirts of the borough.  Recently for some reason it's started to be a problem in streets across the ward.  Black bags dumped on the grass on estate roads, in alleys behind older terraces, in the road behind shops - no apparent pattern, no apparent reason.  I spent time on Friday morning with the cleansing manager and Care For Your Area technician working out a course of action for one area.  Alan spent time on Friday afternoon doing the same for another patch.  Action will be taken but it's a use of council resources which shouldn't be needed.
One ray of (virtual) sunshine in the morning's rain was seeing that the Carnoustie Drive subway is clear of flooding, showing that all the work done last year has paid off and the drains finally work!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Planning - again!

On Wednesday afternoon Stockton Council's planning committee met in public to discuss the Allen's West application.  The agent, very predictably, talked about how good it would be for the borough - more housing, more money etc.  I pointed out that the road infrastructure nearby, specifically Yarm High St, is creaking and although the application can't put that right we are convinced that it will make things worse despite the best efforts of SBC engineers.  I also spoke about the proposed care home - not needed in stockton or in Eaglescliffe.  We have a surfeit of places in residential care and what we really need is the kind of extra care sheltered facilities that are found at Aspen Gardens.  Residents keep telling us that what they want is a replacement for Witham House.   What we are offered is a choice between residential care or expensive retirement flats.  It's not on.
The killer for the application turned out to be the thing I've said all along - why lose employment opportunities just to give the Irish Government the money back that it needs after bailing out a bank which lent a ridiculous amount to the previous owners of the site?  There are warehouses on there which could no doubt have their contents and employment transferred to other similar warehouses around the borough but the high storage for the NHS in one of the large sheds doesn't seem to be transferable at an economic price.  That aspect of the site could be accomodated with some imagination and determination but the present agents seem unwilling to even consider it.
The head of that company spoke eloquently about the need to be where they are, I followed it up with my views and two Labour members of the committee had the courage to go against the officer recommendation and vote against the application in its present form.  With my fellow councillor, Alan Lewis, the Tories and the Thornaby Independent representative that was enough to reject it.  As a result the applicant has a fortnight to have further discussions with the relevant people to see if they can produce an acceptable solution.  It will come back to committee on 30th May in all probability.
Meanwhile I've been dealing with a number of queries about other applications, ranging from the fairly large one opposite Hunters' Green to a replacement for one house on Yarm Rd/Cleveland Gardens junction.  The Urlay Nook application will be the subject of a pre-application meeting next Wednesday, 16th May between 4 and 7pm at the Oakwood Centre.  I've complained about the venue - not exactly the most accessible place in the ward - and asked why they didn't book the community centre or one of the school halls.  After all, Nifco did that and their application has a lot less impact on the area.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

On Monday the planning officer responsible for dealing with the Allens West planning application published his report for planning committee.  Perhaps not surprisingly he's recommending approval.  The Highways Agency hasn't said the roads can't cope.  Tests on the land haven't shown it to be contaminated with anything horrible.  He considers there to be no good planning reasons for refusal of the application.  I still have real concerns over the loss of employment land, the increase in traffic and the impact on community facilities such as doctors, dentists, schools and so on.  The decision will be taken at a meeting held in public on May 9th at 1.30pm in the Jim Cooke Conference room, accessed through Stockton Library.
The first meeting of the new committee of Friends of Preston Park took place on Tuesday afternoon.  It was agreed that the Friends will host an event leading up to the lighting of a Jubilee Beacon at the riverside on June 4th, and a sub-committee was set up to finalise the details.
Later on the same day there was a meeting of the Jubilee committee of Egglescliffe & Eaglescliffe council to finalise the plans for the Jubilee weekend in the parish.  Fun activities for children on the green in front of Orchard shops, an exhibition and a talk in the community centre and then a murder mystery evening on the Saturday; picnic lunch, fun and games on the village green, afternoon tea in the parish hall, a service of thanksgiving on the green on the Sunday; music and refreshments leading up to the lighting of the beacon on the Monday evening at Memorial Garden.  All we need to make it perfect is fine weather and the good people of Eaglescliffe to turn out and enjoy yourselves.
Taylor Wimpey are about to launch a public consultation prior to submitting an application for housing at Urlay Nook, opposite Hunters' Green estate.  They claim of course that it will be energy efficient, well designed housing but it's going to be a long way from the nearest shops, have no bus service going past, and generally not be very sustainable from a first look at the proposals.  And so life goes on in Eaglescliffe!